Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good Seafood with an Ocean View

Finally there is a restaurant with seafood that's as good as the view. Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay has top notch food along with nice views of the Pacific Ocean.

I had heard about the planning for this restaurant for many months but had missed news of its opening. Earlier this week, my wife and I had the opportunity to dine at Sam's. We are both East Coast natives, with West Coast sensibilities, who are picky about our seafood.

Upon arrival, we immediately noticed that Sam's has the ambiance of an East Coast seafood joint: nothing fancy and a bar with sports on the big screens. However, being on the West Coast, Sam's has a good wine list and some microbrews on tap. In addition, the menu tells you that Sam's "do(es) not thicken their chowders with tons of flour," fries their food in "cholesterol- and trans-fat-free vegetable oil," and "serves sustainably-fished seafood whenever possible and practical."

The real test, though, is the taste of the food; and we gave Sam's a tough test. My wife summered in Maine and is extremely picky about lobster rolls. I am a native of Baltimore and am the same way about crab cakes. We both felt that Sam's serves the best lobster rolls and crab cakes in the Bay Area. My wife believes a good lobster roll has three ingredients: fresh lobster, butter, and a roll. Sam's serves the mayonnaise on the side for those who prefer a little dressing on their roll and adds a fourth ingredient -- celery. For me, crab cakes should be all crab with just a little binder to hold the meat together. Sam's crab cakes passed the test but, not unexpectedly, are made with Dungeness Crab rather than my favorite Blue Crab. Excellent coleslaw accompanied both dishes. The crab cakes came with fresh, thin-cut fries and the lobster roll with house-made potato chips.

I highly recommend a visit to Sam's. On a nice day, dine outside so you can watch the waves while you eat. Sam's Chowder House is located on Highway 1, just south of Princeton Harbor. To make a reservation call (650) 712-0245. More information may be found at www.SamsChowderHouse.com.

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